What Disqualifies You From Being a Pharmacy Tech? Background Check, Drug Test, Felonies, Misdemeanors

If you have looked into becoming a pharmacy technician, you have probably found out that you will have to get a background check. Usually, both the state that you work for and your employer will require one.

You may be wondering if you can be disqualified from working as a pharmacy tech for failing a drug test, having a misdemeanor, or having a felony. 

If you fail a drug test, you will most likely be disqualified from getting a job as a pharmacy technician. 

People with misdemeanors may be able to work as pharmacy technicians, as long as the charge is not related to drug use or theft. Some states are more strict about misdemeanor charges than others. 

A person with a felony charge is almost always disqualified. 

This guide covers background checks for pharmacy technicians, different state requirements, and more to help you determine whether you’re likely eligible to work as a pharmacy tech. 

Pharmacy Tech Background Check Process Overview

Pharmacy technicians are responsible for handling prescription medications including many controlled substances such as narcotics, benzodiazepines, and stimulants. These medications have a high potential for addiction and are frequently stolen from pharmacies. Not only does this hurt the pharmacy, but it puts employees, patients, and the community at risk. 

Because of this, everyone who has easy access to these medications must go through a background check. In fact, federal law requires all employers to perform a background check on all new pharmacy employees. 

Typically, pharmacy technicians are subject to a background check when they apply for registration with their state board of pharmacy. In addition, employers of pharmacy technicians almost always require a background check and drug screening before they extend a job offer. 

Some pharmacy technician schools also require a background check when a student applies to their program. 

Employers must obtain written consent from any person before completing a background check. If a job candidate refuses, the hiring process will not proceed. 

A background check for a pharmacy technician usually includes: 

  • Social Security number verification 
  • Criminal history
  • Employment history
  • Education verification (if certification is required)
  • Drug testing
  • Professional references
  • Fingerprinting (state board only)

Employers usually cover the cost of a new employee background check, but your state board of pharmacy will not. Background checks usually cost between $20 and $150, depending on how detailed they are. 

Some employers also perform social media checks before hiring a new employee. This helps the employer identify risky behaviors, associations with extremist groups, criminal behaviors, and value systems. 

Do Pharmacy Technicians Get Drug Tested?

Pharmacy technicians are subject to drug screening tests before they are hired and may be required to submit to random drug testing throughout their employment. New employees may be required to take a urine, blood, or saliva blood test.

A urine drug screen is by far the most common. Hospitals and large retail pharmacy chains like CVS and Walgreens require new employees to take a urine drug test in person. Employers receive the results within 1 to 2 days and will usually let job candidates know whether they pass or fail right away. 

When a person takes a urine drug test, they will have to urinate into a cup with a trained professional standing right beside them or with only a curtain providing privacy. That urine is analyzed for the presence of drug metabolites. Drug tests typically screen for: 

  • Cocaine
  • THC (marijuana)
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)
  • Amphetamines
  • Propoxyphene
  • Methaqualone
  • Opiates
  • Methadone
  • Barbiturates
  • Benzodiazepines

If you have a prescription for any of these medications, make sure to let your future employer and the state board of pharmacy before you take your test. You will need to provide evidence of the prescription to your employer or the state. 

Because THC is legal in many states, laws surrounding its use can be very confusing. However, since pharmacies receive money from the federal government through systems like Medicare and Medicaid, pharmacies are required to follow federal laws. This means that using marijuana is illegal for all pharmacy employees

Can You Be a Pharmacy Tech With a Misdemeanor?

A misdemeanor does not necessarily disqualify a person from working as a pharmacy technician. Some states are more strict than others, but several factors are considered. 

The most important consideration is usually the type of crime that has been committed. A person with a history of theft, violence, or drug-related crimes is unlikely to be hired as a pharmacy technician. 

In addition, class A misdemeanors will most likely disqualify a person from becoming a pharmacy technician, while class C misdemeanors or traffic violations might be overlooked. 

Delaware, Hawaii, New York, and Pennsylvania are typically the least strict states because they do not require pharmacy technicians to register with the state board of pharmacy. However, employers can still choose whether or not to hire someone with a misdemeanor. 

In states that require certification, like Arizona, Colorado, and Idaho, a misdemeanor is more likely to negatively affect a person's ability to work as a pharmacy technician. 

Can You Be a Pharmacy Tech With a Felony?

It is very difficult for someone with felony charges to become a pharmacy technician. Because pharmacies deal with high-risk medications and have access to sensitive patient information, employers and the state board must be strict when considering job candidates. 

Most pharmacies will not hire a job candidate with felony charges, especially if they are related to drug use, theft, or violence. 

If you have felony charges and want to work as a pharmacy technician, you may have to work to get the charges expunged from your record. Some crimes, such as violent crimes and sex crimes cannot be expunged, and most states require that a person waits 5 to 10 years before they can clean up their criminal record for lesser charges. 

Can You Be a Pharmacy Tech With a DUI?

A DUI is another criminal charge that may prevent you from becoming a pharmacy technician. In many states, a DUI is a felony charge, especially if it results in the harm of another person or the destruction of property. 

If you live in Alaska, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, New Mexico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, or Texas, you will not be able to register as a pharmacy technician if you have been convicted of a DUI.

States like Utah and Oregon have no specific language or laws regarding pharmacy technicians and DUI charges, so it is up to your employer to decide whether or not to excuse a DUI. 

Appeals and Exceptions

While it is difficult, it is not impossible to become a pharmacy technician with a criminal record. Check with your state board of pharmacy and potential employer to see if they allow for appeals or exceptions.

Here is some information for specific scenarios:

  • Valid prescription. If you have a current prescription for substances like Adderall, benzodiazepines, or pain medication, you will have to submit those prescriptions and disclose the details of your medical record prior to your drug screening test. It is illegal for employers to discriminate against someone with a valid prescription, as long as the medication does not impact their ability to perform their job. 
  • Rehabilitation evidence: Some states allow for appeals if you can provide evidence of rehabilitation or if a significant amount of time has passed since the conviction. Avoiding new criminal behavior, showing evidence of employment since being charged, having great professional references, and a clean urine drug screening can all improve your chances of being hired. 
  • Expungement: In some cases, getting a conviction expunged from your record may improve your chances of becoming a pharmacy technician. It is much easier to get a misdemeanor expunged from your record than a felony charge. 

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